It's best not to judge a country by its size. Lithuania may be small, but its beauty begins along the Baltic Sea for those seeking outdoor adventures. Its urban centers provide an abundance of folk art and culture, and the country's local cuisine intertwines with a beer-brewing tradition that dates back to the 11th century. From sand dunes to skiing slopes, there are many great things to do and explore in Lithuania within the relatively small confines of its geographic borders.
One of the best things to do in Lithuania is to visit one of the mineral water resorts. The resorts have a long history in Lithuania, with the first treatment facility opening in 1587. The Druskininkai resort community is a mineral resort hub where you can experience the truly unique relaxation and healing properties of the water treatments, or ease yourself into a simmering moor mud bath.
A hike out to the Curonian Spit at Kuršių Nerija National Park can feel a bit like you are exploring a desert landscape. This narrow strip of sand dunes extends out away from the shoreline and separates the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon. With water on both sides and rolling sand dunes beneath your feet, the view surrounding you will be truly majestic. The lagoon itself is perfect for water sports like sailing, kayaking, and canoeing.
The immense slopes of Kalita Hill are Lithuania's premier spot for skiing and snow sports. Five ski lifts take you to a wide variety of hills, from slopes for the serious skier seeking a challenge to hills that are perfect for the whole family. In the summer, take a roaring trip down the 1,642 feet sled track.
There are three distinct sections of the Seaside Cycle Route. Nida stretches 30 miles and runs along the Curonian Spit, giving you a chance to check out the colossal sand dunes. The Butinge route takes riders through Seaside Regional Park, where you can catch a glimpse of Lake Plazė and its high bluff overlooking the Baltic Sea, and the Dutchman's Cap Hill, a historic navigational point for sailors. The third portion of the route, Rusne Island, extends 70 miles and goes through the Nemunas River Delta. This wetland includes plenty of wildlife, such as the white-tailed eagle and the barnacle goose.
Walking the streets of Vilnius gives you the chance to appreciate the street art found throughout Lithuania's capital. You will notice that some of the artworks have folk and medieval influences. If you're in need of a drink, you should try some local craft beer. The city has a long brewing tradition, so the vast array of local beers presents interesting pairing opportunities with Lithuania's cuisine. To end your evening, why not take a hot air balloon ride and view Vilnius from above? On a typical day, hot air balloons are a fairly common sight from the streets below, and taking a trip will give you a unique perspective of the city below.
A visit to the five Kernavė Hillforts gives you the chance to see some medieval fortifications that date at least to the 13th century. The Archaeological and History Museum of Kernavė details the area's history, which goes back to prehistoric times. Check the calendar for the many festivals held here like the Rasos Feast, which celebrates medieval culture with activities that include ax throwing and catapulting.
Old Town is one of the largest and best-preserved areas in Europe from medieval times. Cathedral Square is the heart and soul of Vilnius and features the Vilnius Cathedral. Take a walk down Old Town's Pilies Street if you are looking for some local folk art or are seeking deals from the street vendors. In March, Pilies Street features the Kaziukas Fair, which is a popular folk art festival.
Located about seven miles north of Siauliai, thousands upon thousands of crosses grace the hillside. The Hill of Crosses stands as a testament to Lithuania's devotion to Christianity. No one knows exactly how many crosses there are on the hill, but people still respect the tradition of visiting the hill and leaving a cross behind, a practice that dates back to the 14th century.
Trakai Island Castle is stunning as it reflects in the calm waters of Lake Galvė. There are regular recreations of medieval combat and craft-making, including the summer Days of Ancient Crafts festival. For a detailed history of the castle and its inhabitants, visit the Trakai History Museum.
Gediminas' Tower is the last remaining piece of the Upper Castle in Vilnius. You can take a funicular railway from the bottom of the hill to the top near the tower. From there, you have some beautiful views of the outlying capital. The tower is home to the Vilnius Castle Museum, which houses archaeological findings from Old Vilnius from the 14th to 17th centuries.